Growing Reader

The Ultimate Summer Reading List for 6- to 8-Year-Olds – 2017 Edition

by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Photo credit: KidStock, Blend Images/ Getty Images

Just the words “summer reading” make me happy. Summer is a perfect time to sink into a series or enjoy a smorgasbord of standalone literature across genres. Especially in the early grades, when there tends to be less emphasis on “required” reading, it can be a joyful time of choice, reading for the sheer pleasure of it, and developing literacy skills for the school year ahead. Here are some of my picks for a lit-centered summer of fun for kids ages 6 to 8.

  • Confetti Kids Series

    by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez

    Emergent readers will be drawn to these gently told tales featuring a diverse cast of children in a bright and urban community. Lily, Mei, Padma, Henry, and Pablo face universal challenges of childhood, like moving to a new neighborhood and feeling shy. The gentle warmth in these simply told tales is grounded in a respect for children and the “small things” that are a big deal in their daily lives.

  • My First Coding Book

    by Kiki Prottsman

    This interactive book is so cool! My First Coding Book is written by a former computer science instructor and is a hands-on introduction to coding for any age. Games, mazes, and puzzles will provide hours and hours of fun as readers learn the basic skills to code, without a computer.
    (On Sale: 7/4/17)

  • Juana and Lucas

    by Juana Medina

    Medina won the 2017 Pura Belpré award with this picture book, and it’s easy to see why. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, like Medina herself, Juana loves many things, including Brussels sprouts and her dog. Learning English is a thing she does not love — but it may open a door to an opportunity to travel with family. Medina’s love for her subject matter shines in this funny story, and as Kirkus points out, “the real gift of this book comes from presenting a different point of reference to American children who hear only stories of poverty and need coming out of South America.”

  • Margaret and the Moon

    by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley

    Margaret Hamilton’s passion for math brought her to MIT and NASA, where she helped to put a man on the moon. "A superb introduction to the life of one girl whose dreams were out-of-this-world,” describes Kirkus in its starred review of Robbins’s and Knisley’s picture book. The fun and usefulness of computer science are evident in this beautifully illustrated biography that will inspire any child to cultivate a vision and see the power and pleasure of math to solve problems.
    (On Sale: 5/16/17)

  • Hooray! My Butt Left the Bench! (Here's Hank #10)

    by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, illustrated by Scott Garrett

    Winkler and Oliver’s wildly popular series has another slam dunk with the latest volume. The laughs begin with the title, and continue through the whole story. When Hank decides to join his friends on the basketball team, there’s only one problem: He’s terrible at basketball. Readers will identify with Hank’s struggles and cheer him on as he struggles to succeed with the help of “Dr. Dunk” (Hank’s dad) and loyal friends who always have his back.
    (On Sale: 8/1/17)

  • Dory Fantasmagory Series

    by Abby Hanlon

    These absolutely hilarious books feature a wildly imaginative main character who’s a little sister with a ton of big ideas. Former first grade teacher Hanlon clearly knows her audience; Dory’s adventures on the page, both real and imagined, are inventive and touching and, most of all, super fun.

  • King & Kayla Series

    by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

    Secret codes and missing dog treats offer plenty of fun and challenges for Kayla and her dog, King, in these detective stories for beginning independent readers. Meyers’s expressive illustrations provide clues as the stories unfold, and kids will love reading about the adorably misunderstood King as they are guided through the fundamentals of fact-gathering and analytical thinking.

  • Bea Garcia Series

    by Deborah Zemke

    Doodlers of any age will fall in love with artist Bea Garcia, whose notebook drawings help her deal with the absence of a best friend and the first steps of making a new one. Bea’s frustrations and triumphs will resonate with young readers; Kirkus says kids will “find inspiration to write, draw, explore, and imagine,” and, according to Publishers Weekly, they’ll see that “art, self-expression, and humor can be solid allies when life doesn’t go as planned.”
    (On Sale: 6/6/17)

  • Ruby Lu, Brave and True

    by Lenore Look, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

    Look never fails to bring tears (of laughter) to my eyes, and this first installment in the award-winning Ruby Lu trilogy is no exception. Ruby Lu — big sister, magician, and reflective tape expert — loves her suburban life. She doesn’t love Chinese school on Saturday or the havoc her baby brothers can wreak on a magic show. Fans of Ramona Quimby and Junie B. Jones will devour spunky Ruby, and Wilsdorf’s lively art amplifies the warmth of the story.

  • Little Rhino Series

    by Krystle Howard and Ryan Howard, illustrated by Erwin Madrid

    Major League Baseball All-Star Ryan Howard teams up with Krystle Howard, his wife and former early childhood educator, to blend stories of friendship, bullying, and community with a summer sports staple — baseball — to create a winning chapter book series. Rhino is a sweet and supportive friend with big dreams that don’t quite match his skills, but he’s willing to put in the work to reach his goals.

  • Out of the Box

    by Jemma Westing

    Creative readers who are looking for something more hands-on will love this book that’s filled with unique craft projects based on something that most families have lying around the house: cardboard. Cardboard may not be the most glamorous material, but it sure is versatile. With Westing’s step-by-step directions, your little engineer will be building 25 cool projects — including costumes, robots, and games — in no time. The perfect STEM-based book to inspire a fun-filled summer.

  • Batgirl at Super Hero High (DC Super Hero Girls)

    by Lisa Yee

    It’s no surprise that Yee, author of the wonderful and voice-filled Millicent Min, Girl Genius, would write a middle grade novel with a main character who almost literally leaps off of the page. Genius and tech whiz Barbara Gordon is invited to super hero school to train alongside an elite group of teen heroes-in-training. There are thrills galore, and of course laughs, as Barbara confronts the challenges of teendom in the super hero world.

  • Rip and Red Series

    by Phil Bildner, illustrated by Tim Probert

    These exuberant stories feature a pair of best friends in 5th grade: easygoing and athletic Rip, and Red, who has autism and is challenged by changes in his routine. Probert’s high-energy illustrations add to the fast-paced feel, but Bildner’s attention to character and emotion fill these school stories with heart.

What books are you looking forward to reading and sharing with your 6-, 7-, or 8-year-old this summer?